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Pork Free Post: Pretty Pretty Pretty

11 Dec

The CSA box this week delivered something so pretty, I had to write a pork free post about it. Watermelon daikon radishes. From the outside they look like nothing special, but once you cut in, it is amazing. Bright intense pink with an outer ring ranging from a saturated grass green to a light white-green. Truly a beautiful vegetable.

I’ll be using these a few ways this week, but tonight I threw together what I think must be the most beautifully colored salad ever. It was all on a whim, definitely not a planned part of the night’s meal. I julienned some of these beauties and added them to thinly sliced red cabbage left over from last week’s box. Into the mix went some cilantro, arugula and green onions. The mix of greens, pinks and purples was quite lovely. To finish it off, I whipped up a dressing with lime juice, a touch of apple cider vinegar, oil and honey. The sweetness was a nice contrast to the spicy arugula and radish.

It really is amazing how a food’s color can inspire you. There was just something about the brightness of the radish that made me want to create some sort of salad color explosion. Not only did it taste fresh, but it looked fresh, and what a difference that can make. Color like this is a nice break from the winter blues, that’s for sure.


Day Six: Chili Verde with White Beans

26 Oct

With the rainy/snowy and gray weather we’ve been having, I’m craving more and more comfort foods. One of my all time favorite comforting pork dishes is chili verde – there is just something so great to me about the mix of tart tomatillos, roasted green chilies, and tender pork. I decided that since I’d be using meat that I cooked already, I’d make more of a green chili with pork and white beans, rather than a traditional chili verde.

The chili was perfect for the cold night, with a good amount of heat from the jalapeno and some tang from the tomatillos. Because the meat is shredded, it almost melts into the sauce, ensuring every bite has some pork in it. The flavors aren’t complicated, but just really good.

The recipe below can be adapted to your own tastes. In particular, the jalapeno can be adjusted depending on the heat level you prefer. Also, if using canned tomatillos, they can sometimes come off a bit tart. If that is the case, you can add a little bit of sugar to offset this.

Chili Verde with White Beans (about 3 servings)

  • 1 12-oz can tomatillos, or 1 lb fresh tomatillos
  • 1 large poblano chili
  • 1 tbsp minced jalapeno (I used jarred jalapeno)
  • 2  teaspoons olive oil
  • ½  cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, left whole with skn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp tbsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh)
  • 1 ½  cups chicken stock
  • 1  can (15.5 ounces) white beans, with liquid
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded pork shoulder
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • crumbled feta cheese or cotija cheese
  • juice of lime

Preheat oven with broiler. Place drained tomatillos (if using fresh, remove papery wrapping) on baking sheet with garlic cloves (in skin) and roast 5 – 8 minutes, until they begin to char. Remove and place tomatillos in blender. Remove garlic from skin and add to blender when cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, roast poblano chili on a baking pan until blistered and blackened; place in a plastic bag. Let the poblanos cool a bit, then remove seeds and skins. Add to the blender, along with the jalapeno and 1/2 cup cilantro. Blend the chili-tomatillo mixture until smooth.

Heat olive oil in a saute pan. Add onions and cook about 5 minutes, until soft and the edges beginning to brown. Stir in cumin and oregano and cook for about 1 minute. Add the tomatillo mixture and cook for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Add stock and the beans (plus their liquid). Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Add the shredded pork, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 more minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheese and the remaining cilantro, and squeeze some lime on top.

Day Three: Wonton (Sort of) Soup

12 Oct

Wonton soup is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. It is comforting and full of flavor. Now that I can’t eat wontons, I never get it (well, that combined with the fact that there are no good Chinese restaurants in Tahoe). And in general, I’m horrible at cooking most Asian cuisine. But, since I’m experimenting here, I decided to go for it. I essentially made wontons without the wrappers, so they are gluten-free. They are basically little meatballs – sort of an Asian version of  Sopa de Albondigas. The end result was great, flavorful and light.

I opted to cook the meatballs separately for three main reasons: 1) there is the chance that they could fall apart in boiling water, and I didn’t want there to be chunks in the soup,  2) when you cook them, the cooking liquid becomes very murky which would not make for a pretty soup, and 3) some of the fat cooks out and therefore it won’t be in the soup itself. A note – you could make these as regular wontons. Just buy the wonton skins, fill with meat filling, and cook the same way as the meatballs. You could also add more vegetables, like bamboo shoots or mushrooms.

Wonton Soup

  • 1/2 lb pork shoulder
  • 1/4 c cabbage leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (regular or wheat free)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp finely minced ginger
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 c rich chicken stock
  • 2 c water
  • 1 carrot, sliced diagonally
  • 1/4 of a green cabbage, sliced

Cut the pork into small pieces, and remove any excess fat. Place in a food processor or meat grinder. In a bowl, combine the pork, diced cabbage, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp soy sauce, egg yolk, garlic and ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Form into 10 meatballs (if using wonton skins, you’ll end up with about double since you will use less filling in each).

Fill a pot with water and some ginger slices (if desired). Add meatballs, about 4 at a time, and cook for roughly 8 minutes. Remove and repeat with remaining meat.

Meanwhile, combine the chicken stock, water, rice vinegar and remaining soy sauce and sesame oil in a heavy pot; bring to a simmer. If desired, add additional chopped ginger. Add the carrots and sliced cabbage and cook until carrots are crisp-tender. When all meatballs have cooked, add to the pot with vegetables and broth. Simmer until meatballs are heated through. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

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